Passenger traffic through Cuenca’s Mariscal La Mar airport dropped by almost 25% in 2014, a decline officials say is mostly the result of the opening of Quito’s new international airport.
Officials report that about 381,000 passengers traveled through Cuenca in 2014 compared to 493,587 in 2013.
“This is a very large decline but it is mostly because of long driving times from Quito to the new airport,” says Andres Ramoz of Ecuador’s civil aviation authority. “In some cases, the transfer time from the airport to central Quito was two hours and this caused many travelers not to fly.
Ramoz says the drive-time between the airport and city has been greatly reduced by new highways and predicts air traffic between Quito and Cuenca will show strong improvement in 2015. “Now, it is takes only 20 minutes and as passengers become aware of this, I think there will be an increase in the number of passengers between the cities. We hope the traffic will return to previous levels.”
Travel to and from the new Quito airport in Tababela amounts to almost 85% of Cuenca’s air traffic.
Another factor in the decline in passengers in 2014 according to Gustavo Muñoz, manager of the Cuenca airport, is the extra traffic coming through Cuenca in early 2014 due to repairs at Camilo Ponce Enriquez airport in Loja.
In other airport news, Muñoz announced the suspension of service by Aerogal Airline, an Avianca affiliate. The suspension was ordered by the government for undisclosed civil aviation violations. The last Aerogal flight will leave Cuenca on Wednesday and there is no word when, or whether, service will resume. Aerogal handled 16% of Cuenca-to-Quito traffic in 2014, Muñoz said.